LNBA Constitutes War Crime Court Roadmap Committee -Endorses Draft Bill

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Since the inception of the final report of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the national debate has centered on whether or not one of the salient recommendations, the establishment of War & Economic Crime Court is achievable in the face of naming key national actors to be some of those that are supposed to face the Court.   The Liberian TRC made a total of 47 recommendations to the Liberian government amongst which are the establishment of criminal court with the competence and jurisdiction to adjudicate criminal responsibility for individuals, armed groups and other entities, and the establishment of a National Palava Hut Forum under the aegis of the Independent Human Rights Commission is a useful tool for peace building, healing and national reconciliation at both the national and district levels.  But the recommendations of the TRC were seemingly swept under the carpet during past regime headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who herself is sanctioned to be barred from public office for 30 years after the end of her first term.  On this account everyone thought that the establishment of War & Economic Crime Court would be prominent on the agenda of the government of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC); but contrary to local and international expectations, the opposite seems to be proven. In the face of the reluctance by the current govenment,  the Executive Council (EC) of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) has endorsed and adopted the draft Act entitled,  An Act To Establish An Extraordinary Tribunal For War And Economic Crimes For Liberia ( 2019); The ANALYST reports.

The Executive Council of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) has endorsed and adopted the draft Act titled, An ACT TO ESTABLISH AN EXTRAORDINARY TRIBUNAL FOR WAR AND ECONOMIC CRIMES FOR LIBERIA (2019). The draft Act is in furtherance of the Resolution passed by the LNBA at its Assembly in March 2019 in the City of Kakata, calling for the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, particularly the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court as a way of bringing

to closure the 14- year civil war.

The LNBA which also alarms at conflict of interest, also barked at the appointment of a law student as Probate Judge of Sinoe County.

An LNBA release quoted the Executive Council at its sitting on Tuesday July 2, 2019, as lauding the extraordinary effort and the brilliant work in the drafting of the Act, which was crafted in line with international best practices. The drafting committee was chaired law school professor and legal scholar, Cllr. Dr. Jallah Barbu. Other members are Cllr. Frederick Gbemee, Co-Chair with Cllr. Stanley Kparkillen, Atty. Vivian Neal and Atty. Urias Pour as members.

As a way of fast tracking the entire process leading to the establishment of the extraordinary tribunal for War and Economic Crimes in Liberia, the Executive Council has constituted a roadmap Committee to carve a schedule of events and activities for realization of the passage of the Act. The committee is headed by Atty. Kunkunyon Wleh Teh.  Other members are Cllr. Sundaiway Amegashie and Cllr. Frederick Gbermie.

At the same time, the LNBA has observed with serious concern the conduct of some lawyers that raises the issue of Conflict of Interest associated with certain judicial proceedings within the Country, especially those related to corruption cases.
The LNBA’s concern comes in the wake of the fact that some lawyers who are now state prosecutors were the same ones that served as lawyers for defendants.

Such situation has the tendency to undermine the credibility and integrity of such proceedings which the LNBA warns, has the capacity to jeopardize the adherence to the rule of law, according to the release.

Besides, the LNBA says it has formerly communicated with President George Manneh Weah, regarding to the appointment of a student of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law as Probate Judge of Sinoe County.

The LNBA has written the President and noted that the appointment is a contravention of Section 3.7 of the Judiciary Law. Section 3.7 of the Judiciary Law provides interalia, “…….No person shall be appointed or hold office as a judge of a circuit court who has not been a citizen of Liberia …..….,  who is not an attorney licensed to practice and who has not engaged in the active practice of law for at least five years preceding his appointment……”. The Bar further seizes this opportunity to admonish and encourage the President to seek advice from the LNBA in future appointment of judicial officers.

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